Monday, April 13, 2009

Brave New Bluenoses

Preface: Before publication, I stopped to do some background reading. A hacker is taking responsibility for this mess. Someone else is backing him up.

I don't buy that as a complete explanation. What about the writer who sounded the first alarm back in February? What about Amazon's own public statement on the matter?

And now onto the post as originally written:

I took two days off Twitter and during my absence a huge scandal erupted over Amazon banning certain books from search results, rankings, and lists.

Why should anybody be surprised?

Apple was the first to ban a book. And it seems it has managed to do so with impunity too! (So much impunity, in fact, they did it a second time!)

Given that action, why shouldn't Amazon have been emboldened to act similarly?

We've all be hypnotized by convenience for the sake of our own good.

Everyone is in a selfish swoon over the immediate gratification the abominable Kindle offers.

That selfish pleasure comes at the cost of screwing publishers and turning direct-publishing writers into Amazon's indentured servants.

When you give up your power and assist a monopoly, don't cry later on that you're being abused.

This is what it's about: No one company should ever have enough power to deform the marketplace to its liking.

Not Apple, not Amazon, not Palm, not Microsoft, not Google, not Barnes & Noble, not Sony.

I've stood against the tide of Kindle worship because I could see what it would lead to: exactly the kind of behavior Amazon has revealed itself to be capable of committing.

This is why I've stood against everyone in favor of the Sony Reader. You might have to be inconvenienced right now to load books onto it via old-fashioned cable, but Sony is in this for the long run and sees its Reader as a universal eBook device.

That means when wireless of the Kindle kind is finally built into it, it will offer owners a freedom of buying choice that we have only seen a sneak preview of with Stanza Reader on the iPhone.

Each publisher, each author, can sell directly to readers without surrendering power to a colossal intermediary such as the Apple App Store, Amazon's Kindle Store, or even Sony's own eBook Store.

Freedom of choice in the eBook marketplace should be the vision in the forefront of every reader's mind.

Screw having your eBook right now.

When you go for that, you're giving up the power to have all possible choices later on.

Exactly what kind of future do you want to have?


Francis Turner said...

I don't think it is fair to blame Amazon for this really. It is I think a fundamental weakness of the "wisdom of crowds" model. Amazon may have been the first to be gamed (or hacked) but many other reputation sites are likely to be vulnerable -

MoJo said...

Apple was the first to ban a book. And it seems it has managed to do so with impunity too! (So much impunity, in fact, they did it a second time!)

I'm hurt. You forgot mine. Carnoy cleaned his up and got in the iApp store, which I refused to do.

Sorry but this isn't my biggest beef with Amazon and Kindle.

The bigger Big Brother Amazon issue is that they can wipe your Kindle "purchases" (aka LEASES) on a whim, but because everyone's got stars in their eyes about the Kindle, they're all surprised when this happens.

I despise the Kindle, but I feel I have to be on Amazon for visibility. At their "discount" rates on paper books and Kindle e-books, it is NOT a revenue stream for me. I can only swallow it because I think of it as marketing and visibility.

With this gaffe (whatever its provenance and I'm inclined to think it was an attempt to rearrange its catalog gone horribly awry), perhaps the other issues can be addressed too.

Now, what this means to me as an author? I'm completely independent and I have other sales outlets for my books in print and digital. It doesn't affect me.

What this means to me as a reader is I simply move my dollars elsewhere. Powell's. BMM. B&N. Makes no difference to me.

MoJo said...

So, okay. MY e-book application was banned from Apple, making both me and my iApp developer damn near cry. Here's the story:

December 5, 2008

January 6, 2009

January 12, 2009 (Yeah, I contradicted myself from above. I was never okay with it.)

February 27, 2009 Follow the link to the Future of Internet and How to Stop it Blog.